New research by Florida Polytechnic University faculty and students has the goal of detecting and preventing the growing problem of drowsy and distracted driving.
The project, under the guidance of Kanwal Gagneja, PhD, assistant professor of computer science, uses a microcomputer, a camera, and a buzzer. The camera aims at the driver’s face to detect if they’re closing their eyes often.
“When you’re drowsy, your eyes start to be more often closed than open,” says Eliezer Pla, a computer science senior from St. Petersburg, Fla, in a release. “A certain percentage of eye closure ratio determines the person might be falling asleep at the wheel. And if the driver constantly hits the threshold, the system would buzz them to keep them awake.”
Gagneja says the students developed a software tool to integrate the camera and buzzer system.
“This constant reminder to pay more attention while driving would potentially help reduce accidents,” says Gagneja.
Besides drowsiness, the research also involves measuring the time drivers spend distracted at the wheel. These distractions include, but are not limited to, texting, talking on a hand-held phone, eating, applying makeup, talking to backseat passengers, and more.
“We are focusing on how often people are not looking at the road,” says Lina Brihoum, a senior from Orlando, majoring in computer science. “The computer will give you a percentage of how much you looked at the road. Let’s say 70% of the time. People will realize they’re not paying as much attention driving as they think they are.”
“Not paying attention is the number-one cause for accidents. Hopefully this can prevent some crashes from happening,” said Brihoum.